Kevin Pietersen has said he did not stay up all night in Jamaica, where he was on tour with the England side, awaiting the results of the IPL auction on February 6. Pietersen emerged the big winner along with team-mate Andrew Flintoff at the event in Goa, earning annual contracts worth US$1.55 million each, making them the highest-earning players in the league. However, Pietersen said he was wary of flaunting around his dollars while his friends were coping with the global economic crisis.
"It's an unbelievable amount of money," Pietersen told News of the World. "But I didn't stay up all night waiting for the results of the auction. I am in the Caribbean in the middle of an important Test series against the West Indies and preparation and focus for that is the most important thing.
"I was honoured when I heard the news that I was one of the most highly-rated players in the world. But I can't let things like this affect my focus," he said. "There has been no banter in the dressing room as to how much money we went for. There is a huge credit crunch in England and some of my mates have been made redundant. I have friends who have lost their jobs, so it's not the time to start shaking your money around."
While Pietersen was bought by Bangalore Royal Challengers, Flintoff was purchased for the same sum by Chennai Super Kings - who had paid US$1.5m for Mahendra Singh Dhoni last year. Flintoff, too, was happy with the way things had panned out. "We would not have had any problem with different prices, but I guess being the same might stop a few of the other lads taking the mick. I'm very pleased. I went in at $950,000 so to get that much it's unbelievable really, it has not quite sunk in, I guess. I regard it as a massive bonus.
"My team includes guys like my friend Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan], Matthew Hayden and Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain. So it's a very exciting team," he said. "But I'm here in Jamaica playing a Test match. My mind is full of that and the IPL is not for another six weeks. I just regard it as a massive bonus."
Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah were the other players in the touring party to bag contracts - both for the Delhi Daredevils. "I didn't make any plans to stay up with the Test match in progress, but I must admit I got a text message telling me what had happened. I slept easily after that!" Collingwood said. "I'm absolutely delighted at the price tag on my head. The reserve price was $250,000 so to get a bit more than that is a really nice feeling."
There was some cheer in the opposition camp as well, with West Indian fast bowlers Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards being lapped up at the auction, although Ramnaresh Sarwan and Daren Powell were unsold. Edwards got news of his $150,000 contract with the Deccan Chargers on his 27th birthday.
"It feels great. It was a good birthday gift," he told the Nation. Playing in the IPL will give me the chance to have a new experience and play alongside different players and in different conditions," he said. "It is good to see people recognising your talent and requiring your services."
Edwards was a surprise pick, given he played only three Twenty20 games for Barbados, and was not part of the Stanford Superstars squad that won the Stanford 20/20 for 20 against England last year."I always felt I was good enough to play Twenty20 cricket. This is good for me personally and good for my cricket career," he said. "At present, however, I am concentrating on West Indies cricket and looking to help the team beat England. This series is crucial to us and we want to win and more importantly win at home."